The unique difficulties and advantages of being a multi-passionate woman in the Indian cultural context – Episode 91

Podcast Cover Art. Susmitha in a black dress, laughing with joy. Text: The Feel Good Factor with Susmitha Veganosaurus. Episode 91. The unique difficulties and advantages of being a multi-passionate woman in the Indian cultural context

Being a multi-passionate in itself can be a challenging way of living because it breaks certain social norms and expectations. Doing this as a woman brings with it a new set of complications. But being a woman, who’s grown up surrounded by the contrasts and nuances of Indian culture, wanting to pursue and grow in various areas of interests and passions at the same time, carries a very unique blend of fears and struggles!

In this special episode for International Women’s Day, let’s take a look at the root of these fears and how understanding them can help us not only overcome them, but also see why and how we should freely pursue fulfilment and joy through our various skills, talents, and passions.

Listen on the embedded player below, or on your preferred podcast player. If reading is your jam, then scroll down for the transcript. Enjoy! 🙂

“Know that you have done a lot to prove that as a woman, you can be independent, you can grow, you can earn, all these things. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of your fulfilment. Your growth, ambition, feminism, all of these shouldn’t hinder your desire to pursue multiple things, or alternate things, which have the potential to fulfil you deeply.”

Susmitha Veganosaurus – The Feel Good Factor Podcast

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Transcript of episode about being a multi-passionate Indian woman

(gently edited for a better reading experience)

I belong to a generation of women who grew up with a very double sided view of the world. On the surface, a lot of outdated gender norms were being questioned, were being challenged. That’s what it appeared like on the surface. But at the same time, in very subtle, subconscious levels, traditional views of women were still being dug into us.

So when we looked at our mother’s generation, they had very clear views of the world, at least a lot of them, they had a very clear, old fashioned view of the world. A woman’s primary duty in life, or purpose in life, is to be a householder.

To take care of the home, the family, children, husband… Support everybody else, that is the primary role. And then every other interest that she has, whether it’s in terms of creativity, or doing some kind of work, running a business, or going out to work, whatever it is, all of it was considered secondary.

They were taught that if you fulfil all these familial obligations first, then you’re free to go out and do things in the world

This is what was put into their brains. So we watched mothers, or aunts, people of that generation, accepting that norm and living their lives accordingly. But by the time it came to our generation we were being told that we have bigger purposes in life than just to be a housewife, home maker, mother, wife, and things like that. There’s more to life than that. We were told this.

In fact, my sister and I went to an all girls school where they trained us to be outspoken, to do well in academics, to do well in sports, or even take part in many other activities like drama, singing… A wide array of extracurriculars were encouraged in our school, and students were exposed to all of it.

And at home my parents give equal importance to all our classes, regardless of what seemed gender appropriate for that time or not

So our karate class or swimming practice were equally important to our paata class (classical music class). These were considered equally important, and we were encouraged to have a well rounded education.

Our dad taught us how to drive at very young ages. We started training on how to drive and ride our bikes quite young. So on the surface, it looked like we were being trained to be very independent women as we grew up.

But at the same time, repeatedly, throughout my years of growing up, particularly through my teens and my early twenties, all I heard again and again was that you grow up, you become a wife.

“Your primary role is to be a wife”, this is what our parents told us

If I study commerce, why am I studying commerce? It’s so that I’m good at accounts. And then I’m able to support my husband in his business, or in his work by doing accounts and assisting him.

If I’m driving, if I’m a good driver, why am I learning to drive? So that I can drive my kids around, or help my husband with his work, blah, blah, blah. Basically, as we grew up, we kept hearing again and again that our role was a supporting role.

When you come from a generation like this, you grew up with a lot of doubts

On the one hand, you want to believe that you are an individual of your own. You can design a life and follow your true purpose, you know. Whatever you’re good at, whatever your highest calling is, you can follow that and build a career of your own, be independent of anything else, all of that.

On the surface, we’re believing this, but on the inside again, and again, the message is being reinforced, consciously and subconsciously, that, “No, your life is not your own. Your life belongs to your husband and his family”, and things like that. It was a very difficult thing to resolve, to understand.

So what I’ve seen is, a lot of women in my generation, my peers, when they got into their careers, they worked very hard at it, extra hard at it

They’d have to do a lot to prove to the world, to prove to their families… not just prove, but to normalise this fact that their careers are equally important to the careers of their spouses or their brothers. That their careers might sometimes be even more important than those of their brothers or their spouses.

It took a lot of work for women in my generation to try to normalise this. Many of them still struggle to prove that, and to make that happen at home. And many of them have managed to make it work, and have had a good, strong career growth. Holding very high positions and being very capable. Showing the capacity as individuals in their own right without a dependency on their spouses, brothers, fathers, or other male people in their households.

When you’re in this kind of an environment, in this kind of a culture, if you’re a multi-passionate, it places you in a uniquely difficult situation

You’ve worked so hard to prove that you can succeed in a career, be equal to the male counterparts in your organisations and your families. And then if you have your focus on other interests, not the single mindedness to be in one area of work and growing in that, instead of that, if you have multiple areas of interests, multiple talents, multiple passions, you aren’t taken seriously.

So imagine when somebody like me says, “I’m a chef also, blogger also, podcaster also, artist also, coach also, teacher also, entrepreneur also, meditation creator also… I’m all of these things”, do you think somebody will take me seriously? They’ll think that what I have is a collection of hobbies and I’m not serious about anything at all.

Forget what others think, I myself, for the longest time believed that I wasn’t serious about anything because I was interested in so many things

Eight years of running a business, leading a team, making huge shifts happen in the vegan movement that I’m so passionate about, and the whole time, some part of my inner mind kept saying, “Oh, you’re not serious, you’re just playing the fool, and everything else was luck!”

Heavy, heavy imposter syndrome that I went through all the time. Haha And even now, I have to remember everything that I’ve actually managed to achieve in multiple areas of my work, my creativity, my business, to realise that, “Yes, as a multi-passionate, I can succeed, I can grow. There’s a future in pursuing multiple interests.”

Now as I coach other conscious women entrepreneurs, particularly multi-passionates, I am seeing the same self-doubt in a lot a lot of people

It’s bad enough that they’ve had to grow up trying to prove that they can actually have an independent life, an independent career, independent work doing whatever it is they do. And now they’re being told that if they focus only on one thing, that’s when they will succeed, otherwise they won’t.

So this self-doubt is stopping people from going out of their regular corporate careers, and pursuing different lines of work and interests. It’s a fear, and I can completely understand where this is coming from.

So today, on International Women’s Day, I wanted to create this episode to help other multi-passionate women creators, particularly ones who have grown up in India, to understand where your fears are coming from.

If you’re afraid to either take on an additional interest, a career, an entrepreneurial line of work. Or even worse, if you’re afraid to give up your day to day corporate job which isn’t giving you any fulfilment, to pursue these different areas of work, I want you to understand the source of your fear. Where it could possibly be coming from.

This internal self-doubt that you feel, “am I doing something foolish if I let go of my regular job, or if I give less focus to my regular job, to build a conscious business that will make a difference in the world, or to become a more serious creator or artist and pursue those lines of work?”

If you have the fear of doing this, by understanding where your fear is coming from, I believe you can overcome it

And know that you have done a lot to prove that as a woman, you can be independent, you can grow, you can earn, all these things. But that shouldn’t come at the cost of your fulfilment. Your growth, ambition, feminism, all of these shouldn’t hinder your desire to pursue multiple things, or alternate things, which have the potential to fulfil you deeply.

This may sound a little controversial. But you know, we all live in a world where we have some unfair advantages, and some unfair injustices that we go through. A variety of privileges and oppressions that each of us is exposed to. I say, you accept what position you’re in, and maybe change the narrative a little bit.

So for example, being forced to prove yourself as a woman whereas men in your life, of your similar age group, don’t really have to go through that struggle to prove themselves.

Instead of looking at it as a struggle or an oppression, why don’t we re-frame it as a privilege?

Just hear me out. The privilege here is freedom. You’re picking and choosing, you’re not dismissing the struggle that a lot of women go through, or what you have yourself being through, but instead of that you are picking what best you can do out of this.

And you pick the privilege of, “What if society doesn’t take my career seriously? As a woman, that means I’m not expected to work my butt off for a company and just sacrifice my whole life, day and night, for a corporate career. I don’t have that expectation on me, whereas men do have that on them.”

This is where we need feminism, right? Because it’s sad if women can’t go out and work and prioritise their jobs, and it’s equally sad if men cannot be at home and say, “You know what, I would rather just be a father or a husband and take care of the kids than go out and work.” Both should be possible, both should be allowed, right?

You look at your position as privileged because you don’t have as many expectations on you to follow a career, take one line of work very seriously, and make something big out of your life. Those expectations on you are lesser.

So take advantage of that and fearlessly let go of this commitment of, “I have to grow, I have to earn thissss much money, I have to prove myself to the world”

Instead, focus on yourself saying, “What do I want?” Or more importantly, “Who do I want to be?” And then you do the kind of work, pursue your conscious business or your creative endeavours . As a multi-passionate, chose to follow all your different areas of passions without putting that many expectations on yourself to excel at any of them.

  • How do you want to feel?
  • Who do you want to be?
  • Do you want to be a deeply fulfilled person?
  • Do you want to feel a sense of purpose?
  • When you wake up in the morning, do you want to feel like, “Yes, there’s something I’m looking forward to”?
  • Do you want to create something, and do something positive in the world that’s making a difference?

Then fearlessly choose that, and embrace this thing of, “Well, I don’t have that many expectations on my head, so let me just drop these things that aren’t giving me fulfilment, and follow these different interests and passions which are calling out to me.” And then see where it leads. This is all I wanted to share today.

This episode is specifically geared towards multi-passionate women in the Indian cultural context

I hope that it has given you a little bit more food for thought and a little more confidence to perhaps drop something that doesn’t fulfil you and pursue other things which do fulfil you. Even if that means it’s not one thing, but multiple things.

If your focus has to go across different areas, you won’t excel or grow in a very fast way in any of those areas. And it’s fine!

I hope that after listening to me speak today, you will, if not drop one career and jump into starting your conscious business journey, at least include that as an additional thing to your career as a side hustle… actually I wouldn’t like to call it a side hustle…. As an equally important, additional thing that you’re doing in your life. And of course, not just one but multiple things.

I’m working on a course for multi-passionate creators and entrepreneurs

Of course, today’s episode was specifically geared towards women, but my course is meant for everybody. It’s all about how you can be a multi-passionate and still live a very harmonious life of gentle productivity and growth.

Sign up for my newsletter, The Feel Good Tribe, because I’m sharing a lot of content related to multi-passionates as I go forward until my course is released. There may be a lot of things there which might resonate with you, which might help you in some way to be a better multi-passionate, to confidently pursue your various interests, and embrace this side of yourself which likes more than one thing, which is talented and skilled at more than one thing.

Once you sign up, you’ll get a welcome email. Hit reply, let me know a little bit about yourself. And if you’d like to help me develop this programme in a better way and fine tune it, then I would love to get your input. Fill this survey I’ve created just for multi-passionates.

I really look forward to hearing from you.

Transcribed using Otter

Susmitha Veganosaurus

Shorth haired Indian lady, beaming a wide smile. Flowers in the background. Vegan business coach and chef Susmitha Veganosaurus

“I’m a Spiritual Vegan Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur. I read voraciously, find humour in most things, and believe kindness and authenticity can make this world a happier, loving place.

If my content resonates with you, join my free newsletter where I share Life and Business Tips, Vegan Hacks, Holistic Guidance, and more.

Vegan cuisine and holistic business building are my two biggest passions. If you’re looking for guidance with vegan cooking, or want to grow your conscious business with joy and fulfilment explore ways we can work togetherhere.”